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Kill A Watt Energy Monitors

Which appli­ances are such energy hogs that they need to be replaced? How much energy am I pay­ing for when plug in lamps and appli­ances are left on? Now there is an easy way to fig­ure these things out.

Start­ing in 2011, the Howard County Library Sys­tem (HCLS) have been lend­ing “Kill A Watt” mon­i­tor­ing devices. These were gen­er­ously donated to HCLS by the Sierra Club, Howard County Group. There are 11 devices avail­able for 3-week loan. If you have an HCLS card you will be able to bor­row or reserve Kill A Watts just as you would other library mate­ri­als. Search the library cat­a­log at hclibrary.org.

The Kill A Watt is easy to use. Basi­cally, you plug it into a stan­dard out­let and plug the elec­tric device into the Kill A Watt. The Kill A Watt indi­cates elec­tric­ity usage in watts, kilowatt-hours, costs, and other mea­sures. You can set it to record the energy use over a period of time.

Fight “Vam­pire Loads”

Many elec­tri­cal devices and appli­ances use energy even when you are not using them. This is called a “vam­pire load.” Any appli­ance that has a remote con­trol is actu­ally “on” even when it is “off.” Gam­ing con­soles, espe­cially older mod­els, are noto­ri­ous vampires.

Have Fun

The Kill A Watt is inter­est­ing and fun to use. It could make a great stu­dent sci­ence project (with adult super­vi­sion, of course) or class­room activity.

What Changes Can You Make After Using the Kill A Watt?

  • Change your habits. Does the cell phone charger always have to be plugged in, even when not charg­ing? Sim­ple changes like these can add up to real differences.
  • Use power strips so that you can eas­ily shut off all power to a “fam­ily” of appli­ances like a stereo system.
  • Use “split” power strips. These allow some elec­tron­ics to be kept on while allow­ing oth­ers to be turned on and off eas­ily. For exam­ple, you need your DVR to record your favorite real­ity TV show or nature pro­gram, so that HAS to stay on, but you can save energy and money by turn­ing the TV and Play Sta­tion all the way off.
  • Make sure your com­put­ers, print­ers, etc. go to “sleep” mode when they are not used for a period of time. You should prob­a­bly make this change any­way, but you can use the Kill A Watt to see how much you are sav­ing, or how much you would save by turn­ing it all the way off when not in use.
  • Com­pare the elec­tric­ity use of a refrig­er­a­tor before and after clean­ing dust from its coils.
  • Make smart pur­chases — use it to help you shop:
  1. In the mar­ket for a new com­puter? Fig­ure out what your pc and mon­i­tor use, then research how much less new ones or a lap­top would use. (Spoiler alert – lap­tops use a lot less.)
  2. Think­ing about get­ting a new appli­ance? Deter­mine how much energy yours uses, then com­pare that to new energy-efficient mod­els. Find­ing out the energy used by your old refrig­er­a­tor could help jus­tify the pur­chase of a new, energy effi­cient one. Here is a link to a refrig­er­a­tor energy cal­cu­la­tor.
  3. Another great resource is www.energystar.gov. This site can tell you the energy usage of many prod­ucts.

Green Tip

Hi, I’m Howard and I’m here to provide you with green tips. Look for me throughout the site and check out my cool interactive games at the Kids Zone.